Sometimes it’s the simple things in life that can be most impactful. Take the recent urbanist effort by GObike Buffalo and the WNY Land Conservancy to create safer walkable neighborhoods in the Old First Ward. Over the weekend, the two organizations came together to install temporary street features, including painted bump outs with shamrocks on the pavement. The exercise was performed as a street calming initiative, at two intersections – Hamburg Street intersections at South Park and O’Connell – cross streets that have been sites of safety concern for pedestrians and cyclists.
This traffic calming pop-up is in advance of the reuse of the abandoned DL&W rail corridor – known locally as the Dell. When that project eventually unfolds, there will be an increase in the amount of cycling and pedestrian activity in the surrounding neighborhood. That means that it’s more important than ever to create safe streets for those who will be frequenting the linear park and nature trail.
“I have seen several accidents, including one that drove through our fence at Undergrounds, and so many other close calls at these intersections,” says Sara Heidinger, President of the First Ward Community Center. “We’ve been talking with the Land Conservancy about the community’s needs a lot lately as we plan a possible new trail along the Dell. Making sure that pedestrians are safe going to and from the trail is a big concern.”
The new safety features (painted bump outs with shamrocks on the pavement) were installed by GObike Buffalo and the Western New York Land Conservancy staff, and volunteers. The new safety features have already had an impact, as drivers are slowing down to allow people to cross at the intersections. Before, it was all about the cars. Now, it’s all about everyone.
“It’s a simple change, but it makes a big difference,” said Justin Booth, Executive Director of GObike Buffalo. “We are happy to team up with the Land Conservancy and make this intersection in First Ward safer for users on bikes, on foot, and more.”
“Mazurek’s Bakery has been a part of the First Ward since 1933,” said Ty Reynolds, bakery owner. “The intersections along Hamburg Street can be pretty dangerous. We are excited to see this positive change taking place in our neighborhood. It’s really important to us that customers are able to get in to all the local businesses, and to get home safely to their families.”
The project was made possible with support from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Legacy Funds at the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo and the Population Health Collaborative of Western New York, and was installed by volunteers from the Western New York Land Conservancy, Old First Ward residents, and GObike Buffalo.
Lead image courtesy Western New York Land Conservancy